Bill Would Make New Jersey Dog Owners Criminally Liable for “Bite and Run” Incidents


Most dogs are well behaved but some will bite without provocation. Most dog owners are responsible but some are reckless in failing to supervise their pets. A biting dog and a reckless owner make for a dangerous combination that sometimes leads to a “bite and run.” This happens when a dog attacks a person or another animal and the offending dog and its owner simply take off.

Presumably, dog owners flee the scene to avoid the consequences of an attack, notably financial liability. Under New Jersey law, dog owners are responsible for any injuries and damages their dog causes. In addition, a dog owner may fear government action against the dog. An animal deemed vicious may be seized from the owner and euthanized. Under existing New Jersey law, there is little to be done about a bite and run. The victim has the burden of identifying and finding the owner and the dog.

A state lawmaker wants to enact a law that would help hold dog owners criminally accountable in such circumstances. Assemblyman Jon Bramnick has proposed legislation that treats bite-and-run scenarios like hit-and-run car accidents. The owner of a dog that attacks a person would be required to remain at the scene and provide the victim with the owner’s contact information. The legislation would make fleeing the scene a disorderly person offense. A conviction would carry a fine up to $1,000 plus up to six months in prison. The law, if passed, could result in more dog owners remaining at the scene, allowing the victim to obtain the information needed to pursue a claim for damages.

A dog bite can inflict serious injury. The victim might need help or immediate medical attention. If there is no one else around, he or she could be in real peril. Also, if the dog owner vanishes, the victim will have no idea if the dog has been properly vaccinated against diseases such as rabies. This could lead to unnecessary, expensive medical treatment. Unfortunately, some people subject others to such risks. Anyone bitten by a dog should seek the advice and counsel of an experienced dog bite attorney to protect their legal right to compensation.

Based in Ridgewood, Seigel Law has been helping people with personal injury claims since 1976. If you are the victim of a dog bite, our experienced legal team might be able to track down the dog and its owner and pursue recover of damages. Feel free to contact us online or call 201-444-4000 for a free initial consultation.

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